What follows next in the sequence "unary, binary, ternary..."? gives a lengthy list up to 12 for the sequence "primary, secondary, tertiary, [...]". Does this naming continue forever? If so, what is the pattern?

  • 6
    There is no limit to ordinal numbers, no. But unless it’s something like centennial or millennial, you’re just going to baffle people with tongue-twisters like quinquagesimal, sexagesimal, quingentensimal, and the rest. There is no reason not to use English for all these.
    – tchrist
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 1:24
  • 2
    The series is constructed from Latin prefixes.
    – SEL
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 1:34
  • 6
    See here for how to construct these. But if you start calling base64 sexagesimoquaternary, people will hate you. :)
    – tchrist
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 1:39
  • 2
    There's n-ary go figure. "Adjective (mathematics) of, or relating to, n entities (where n is an arbitrary or large number)" yourdictionary.com/n-ary See also: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/n-ary
    – Kris
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 5:59
  • 1
    If an arbitrary number of any size can be shown to have an ordinal English construction, then there is no limit. Per Kris' example, the -ary suffix means that any cardinal number can be provisioned as ordinal. Then again, ((2^1024)-3)ary vs ((2^1024)-4)ary would be relevant to whom?
    – SrJoven
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 11:54

1 Answer 1


The rules for forming these words are here Link (as noted above) and they are indeed based on Latin.

  • Well deserved upvote, but ... is there a less tenuous link? The given one goes to the wayback machine because the original link is dead, and that link references a dead link as its source. Anyone?
    – jimm101
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 1:24

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